Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why Israel wants to attack Iran.

   If Israel attacks Iran, it won't just be because they fear a Shia nuke.

   Sure, a big red button of win on the Ayatollah's desk would be a credible check on Israeli power and would certainly start an arms race in the Middle East (the Saudi's too would race to centrifuge some yellow cake into something blowable) but this is not what Israel really fears. Besides, Israel has 200+ nukes of its own and is not a signer of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. They know an Iranian nuke would be merely 'theater balancing'. If the Iranians ever used it, Israel would glass them back to the Stone Age. That's the fun thing about nukes. They're really only useful when they never get used. In fact, nukes are the greatest peace keeping weapons ever invented.

   And that's a problem for Israeli expansionist right wingers.

   The real reason Israel wants a war with Iran has little to do with nukes and a whole lot more to do with the current political and military situation in Israel's own back yard. The recent Palestinian UNESCO vote at the UN was pretty much a slap across the face to Israel. Israel knows the rest of the world hates their guts for not making a peace deal with the Palestinians. And the UNESCO vote was no empty gesture either. Since UNESCO was a general assembly vote it could not be vetoed by Israel via AIPAC via the US. Sure, you might think UNESCO is just an educational, scientific and cultural organization but the fun part mixed up in all the fine print is that the vote allows the Palestinians to join the International Criminal Court. So soon, you could have international arrest warrants out for Israeli leaders who like to bust out the white phosphorous after some fucktard Gazan goat herder launches a home made rocket at a school bus.

   In truth, Israeli right wingers are getting extra twitchy.

   The Palestinians have finally realized they cannot win their war with Israel militarily. So they've gotten smart and changed tactics. They're now aiming for a political and moral victory. And that's a war right wing politicians in Israel can't send the mighty IDF to win. In fact, it's a war the Israelis think they might lose. Especially when they themselves score major PR failures like the raid on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmera which seriously pissed off the rest of the world and especially Turkey, a major NATO power in the region. In truth, the Israeli right cannot get what it wants (more land and settlements) through peace and negotiation.

   The Israelis can at best delay the Iranian nuke program with a bombing mission but the truth is, the Iranian nuke program is diversified enough that nothing is gonna stop a Shia nuke in the long run. Uranium enrichment and warhead design is tricky but nothing the Iranian mathematicians can't work out with a pencil given enough time. If Israel attacks Iran they're playing a different game then the one advertised on TV. It's about delaying Iran while neutralizing Southern Lebanon.

   So it might soon be time to grab the popcorn folks.

   If Israel attacks Iran's nuke sites it'll be because they want to provoke an Iranian response in their own backyard that'll allow them to finally settle their Lebensraum and 'illegal' settlement problem once and for all. Since the pesky Persians have no air force capable of conducting a reciprocal strike, they'll have to rely on their asymmetrical forces. And Iran sure has plenty of these. The Iranians basically have a proxy army right next door to Israel in Southern Lebanon and as soon as this war goes live (if it ever does and hopefully not), you can expect Hezbollah, the al-Aqsa martyr brigades, al-Qassam and all the other Iranian funded proxies to launch everything they've got at Tel Aviv.

   This will be the open invitation Israel needs to finally take the gloves off and do what they've been itching to do since the IDF got its nose bloodied by Shia heavy infantry in Lebanon in 2006. The forces there are no joke either. Entrenched and well equipped with rocket artillery, mainly consisting of 122mm Katyushas (range 30km), they also have Syrian made BM-21s, Iranian Arash and maybe 100 Fajr-5 (range Tel Aviv) and also a nice spectrum of modern anti tank weapons including the RPG-32, (the Israelis lost 30 of their supposedly invincible Merkeva tanks to them in 2006). This pesky Iranian proxy army next door is not going to be defeated unless the Israeli military goes total war on their asses. And a war with Iran will be all the justification they need to get the ball rolling.

   The Israeli right wants more territory and they are not going to get it by entering peaceful negotiations with the Palestinians. That strategy is for wimps. All that more peace talks will buy is some good Israeli PR in the minds of a foreign public with the collective memory of a goldfish. And that's worth jack shit in the regional power play and won't deliver the needed real estate. A walled in Palestinian state will only be desirable to the Israelis after they've chopped it all up into small manageable chunks linked by roads and water supplies they control. That annexation isn't complete yet. And with the way the Palestinian question is playing on the world stage right now, the Israelis are seeing problems brewing with their ongoing annexation policy. They're also nervous about fighting a growing demographic time bomb at home where Israeli Arabs and Palestinians are fucking like jack rabbits creating a voting bloc which could skew things away from the distinctly Jewish state they've been expanding since 1948.

   So is total war the solution?

   Of course it fucking is. It always is for us upright apes. Total war will solve a whole bunch of Israeli problems but start a whole set of new ones for the wider world. By attacking Iran and provoking an Iranian proxy response against Israel, the IDF will finally get to settle the Southern Lebanon, Gaza, Golan Heights and illegal settlement problem once and for all. All with the added bonus of setting back Iran's shitty nuke program a few years. Sure, the Iranian's will launch some of their semi accurate Shahab 3s back at Israel, maybe even aiming for the Israeli nuke facility at Dimona in the hopes of whipping up some Geiger counter juice of their own.

   Will Israel need US support? Sure. But they won't get that by simply asking. Even if the answer is "no", Netanyahu knows he can just act and drag the Americans in by default. He knows the Iranian response to an attack will be to use every tactic in the playbook once the pew-pew starts and Natanz is burning. One tactic will be mining the shallow waters of the Gulf and, quite possibly, firing Chinese Silkworm missiles at all those fat oil tankers lumbering off the Iranian coast with 40% of seaborne world oil supply in their bellies. Oil prices will shoot through the roof overnight, the brittle American and Euro economies will crash dive and the US will be forced into this thing in a big way.

   Sure, the Chinese and Russians will be pissed but will they get involved in the shooting and kick start WWIII? Probably not. It'll be more fun for them to just sit back and watch the death spasms of American superpower. I'll admit that I've said before that WWIII is on the table but the Russkis and Chinese will probably just play the waiting game and supply Iran with fucktons of weaponry while issuing angry protests at the UN and secretly laughing their asses off. That's the smart move. They can win this thing just by sitting back and watching the fireworks. Sure, the world economy will tank but Russian and Chinese populations are better suited to austerity than all the spoiled assholes in Western countries who'll shit a brick when they can't afford a new flatscreen.

   Thing is, the Iranian threat to Gulf shipping will be very hard to counter without filling the skies over Iran with drones and aircraft and even then, how do you stop hundreds of Iranian speedboats dropping mines into the Straits of Hormuz? And, more interestingly, how do you pay for it all? Just the theoretical threat of mines in the Gulf is enough to push insurance rates on tankers through the roof. There goes your cheap commute from suburbia! Limited ground invasion? Western boots on the ground in Iran (if it played out like that) could be considered a proxy resource war too far by the Russkis and Chinese, especially since Iran is sitting on the 4th largest oil deposit on the planet.

   Let's face it, this war is scary as hell.

   In fact, it's so scary, I can't believe it will actually happen. I'm sure the US is pressuring Israel behind the scenes not to go ahead with their dream strike. Sure, the air waves in the US and Europe are getting flooded right now with Iranian nuke bullshit, preparing the public for the possibility of war by making it seem like Iran will soon have a multiple stage ICBM capable of raining down mega tonnage on New York City. And the average Fox News viewer probably believes it too. After all, the dumb fuck public are still scared by a bunch of idiots doing that monkey bar training thing, footage the media roll out every time they want you to be scared of bad guys in some foreign desert somewhere.

   But the scariest caveat in all of this is the shaky financial status of Western economies.

   Major powers going broke is historically a war creating environment.

  With Occupy Wall Street protests everywhere, small but worrying to the Western oligarchy, and Europe and the US teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, the scariest part is that total wars are handy ways to wipe financial slates clean, clear the streets of 'unpatriotic' long hairs and grab the resources you need to fund the extravagant life styles people in the West have grown used to. If this war does happen, that'll be pretty much confirmation that the Western oligarchy has run out of ideas on how to solve its insolvency and bankruptcy problem.

   Stockpile popcorn. Stay tuned. I still believe this war can't happen but of course, that's assuming we're living in a world run by rational men and I'm not so sure anymore, if we live in that world.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Libya: The Dictator is dead! Next up: "Democracy"?

   It was only a matter of time before Gaddafi ended up like Saddam Hussein.

  Let's face it, it's risky business being a Mid East dictator these days. Unless of course you're a Saudi Royal and willing to do business with the global corporate oligarchy and play ball by petro dollar rules. Failure to comply means you get put on the bad guy list. And Gaddafi sure was a 'bad guy'. But then again, show me a leader in the Middle East that isn't. To climb your way to the top of the action in desert cultures, you've got to be a strongman. That means a sleazy history and high body counts the Western media can use against you when they decide they want your shit. No Mid East ruler since the time of Mohammad ever got to power on a peace and love manifesto. It's a hard dry land out there, forbidding, fruitless and it wasn't until the combustion engine got invented in the late 1800s that Western oligarchy's got interested in what was buried under all that desert sand.

   Sure, Gaddafi had it coming.

   He died by the sword just like in the old maxim.

  I was never a fan  but I will admit a certain schadenfreude at Gaddafi's power to piss off oil hungry Western interests. Just when he was playing nice again and making friends with the US via Condoleeza Rice, he suddenly found himself cast as the lead villain in a NATO funded war movie called "Odyssey Dawn". He sure looked the part. Villains are always more memorable if they have a signature look and Gaddafi sure did fit the bill. He dressed in flamboyant carpets and habitually wore something that looked like the curtains from a 1970's porno flick. He had odd habits too like bringing his tent with him when travelling abroad and pitching it on the lawns of rented multi million dollar mansions while leaving the mansion itself unoccupied. My favorite bit was the hot Ukrainian nurses he had on  payroll  that "monitored his blood pressure" while he shelled his own cities. In hindsight, the city of Misrata turned out to be Gaddafi's mini Stalingrad and the place where his forces were broken.

Gaddafi trying to play ball in 2006.

   Gaddafi grabbed power in Libya as a 27 year old captain in a bloodless coup in 1969 while the former King was jetsetting around Europe. Fancying himself as the Arab Che Guevara, Gadaffi was the strongman material the disparate Libyan tribes could understand and he set up the new Libya as a late sixties counter cultural anti imperialist mecca where anyone looking to do bad shit to Western interests could get supplies, weapons and explosives.

   Obviously, that put him on the Western shit list.

  Libya took part in the 1973 oil embargo against the US and its support for Arab unity and opposition to western interests in Islamic states painted a big fat target on Gaddafi in the western world. In 1982, Reagan imposed sanctions and the CIA tried to off him in 1984. Two years later, a squadron of F-111s bombed his compound and killed his 15 month old adopted daughter. This was in response to the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing that killed and injured a bunch of US servicemen. The Libyan's retaliated in 1988 with the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The evidence that Gaddafi funded it was remarkably flimsy but it's gone down in history as his doing and conspiracy theories are not my forte. Truth is, everything is a conspiracy these days and whatever line of bullshit you choose to believe is a personal affair. There is no real truth anymore in the age of the Internet. 

   Let's face it, we're living in Bladerunner.

   So what now for Libya after the national strongman has ended up on display in a freezer at the local supermarket?

  Can these rebels, now styled the National Transitional Council, keep a lid on things or are 42 year old internecine scores about to get settled? Who really knows? That's probably why the NATO pencil pushers nicknamed this mission "Odyssey Dawn"; they had no clue either what the outcome of intervening in another oil rich Mid East dictatorship would be. I bet all those people dying in the popular revolt going on in Syria right now are kicking themselves that their geography doesn't sit on top of some proven oil reserves. The world we're living in demands energy and a fortunate geography buys you air support as the 21st century enters the proxy war stage. Libya was just the preliminary low hanging fruit.

   There will be a lot of factors at work in Libya once the post revolution high wears off.

   The Transnational Council are the ones sitting on the oil reserves and the ones the oligarchy is willing to do business with. All of those reserves are in Eastern Libya. And the TNC have already proved they can do business, filling a number of tankers even during the war that bagged them $200 million per load that sure helped fuel the rebel war effort.  Ironically, it was Reagan's sanctions and the inability of Gaddafi to sell his oil during the 80s and 90s, (when oil was astoundingly cheap), that preserved Libya's supply. Estimates say Libya had about 55 giga barrels of which they've gone through about half. This leaves them with significant reserves of around the 30 Gb mark and an export capacity of 1.9 million barrels per day which is why the western oligarchy got interested in this little war in the first place.

    Eastern Libya and its capital Benghazi have always been Libyan redneck country and the part sophisticates in Tripoli liked to look down on while sipping their fancy coffees in upscale cafes. Benghazi is the city where the supporters of the former king that Gaddafi deposed in the '60s got to lay low while watching as Gaddafi funneled the oil wealth out from under their feet. They've been itching for a shot at revenge for decades. It's also home to the Islamists and the wilder desert tribes and proved fervent recruiting ground for volunteers for Iraq and Afghanistan to fight the Yankee imperialists. Those are the contradictory people NATO sided with when they got involved in this war. Truth is, oil makes everyone a consumer, loyalties cheap and alliances tend to shift like desert sands all so long as us proles get to fill up our vehicles as cheaply as possible to make that commute from surburbia to the job site affordable.

    Libya, under Gaddafi, supplied 10% of the Euros oil (the reason why the French and British got concerned for [sic] humanitarian reasons) and one thing about Libyan oil is that it is especially 'sweet'. That means it only costs a dollar to refine a barrel as opposed to most other oils out there (barring Brent North Sea crude) with high sulphur content. Those Canadian tar sands the US is in love with right now are dirty and the pipeline they want to run to Texas means the US is really starting to get jittery about the future of suburban voters. If shit gets too expensive that voting block might finally go 'off reservation' and elect a guy the corporate fucks have not already bought.

   Yeah, Libya sure was a fun war to watch, if you're like me with an eye on the bigger picture. The bigger picture is nasty and Libya and Gaddafi will be merely a footnote in the ongoing global chess game. The energy chess game that pits established powers against rising powers all of them sucking at the tit of black gold. Sure, there are conflicting reports on how much spice is left. But that doesn't really matter in the end anyway.

   As always in war, what really matters for nobodies like you and me, is what other men in positions of power are prepared to do to deliver what the rest of us secretly want. Cash money. That's how power structures work. You stay in power playing a subtle strategic game of pleb delivery and filling your own pockets for retirement on beachfront property somewhere sunny. And killing your opponents if they become too pesky. Machiavelli layed down the rules for this whole paradigm centuries ago. And nothing has changed for us sad upright apes.

   And by Machiavelli's own measure, it seems Gaddafi screwed up royally and finally ran up against more powerful foreign men.